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More than 600 people to partake in 12th National Woodball Championships

By Sun Xiaochen | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-29 19:08

A cheaper and less-physical alternative of golf is gaining momentum in China with more than 600 players signed up to participate in the 12th National Championships.

The leisure sport, inspired by golf-based stroke play, called woodball, can be played individually or in teams using wooden mallets, instead of clubs to hit a wooden ball through narrow gates.

The championships, an annual event since 2006, will be held for five days at the Wumen Prairie in Panzhou, Southwest China's Guizhou province, from Aug 24.

During the game, individual players or teams consisting of four to six members have to complete sessions from the first to the 12th gate, with each set on a fairway. Those with the fewest strokes will win the game.

The ball used in woodball is larger and heavier than a golf ball, so the game has to be played in a rolling motion on the ground. This makes it physically easier for all-age participants to play. The game can be played on a lawn, sand and even clay ground.

The smaller courses, which are cheaper and have less technical pieces of equipment, allow gamers to enjoy a taste of golf without the commitment of buying expensive clubs or having membership fees at golf courses.

"It's still new in China, but it's apparently a very accessible sport which fits in a lot of mass fitness events, leisure and tourism programs in the country," Wang Yulong, deputy director of the Social Sports Instruction Center of China, said.

"We are expecting more people to pick up a mallet to play it."

The center, an affiliate to the General Administration of Sport of China, has promoted the sport in 20 provinces across the country since 2000.

The Chinese Woodball Association also organized promotional training clinics or built teams in 60 schools since its establishment in 2008.

The Olympic Council of Asia also accepted the sport as an official event on the program of the Asian Beach Games in 2008. The Chinese team won two silver and five bronze medals out of the sport's 11 categories at the beach games in Vietnam in 2016.

"It's a good game for all ages," Du Qiong, director of the municipal publicity department of Panzhou, said.

"The fun of playing it contains parent-child bonding, relaxation and socializing.

"It's a perfect event for our goal to develop the region into a sports and leisure destination in southwestern Guizhou province."

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